Generating outrage bait? Super easy! Barely an inconvenience!
Ryan George's latest YouTube video has a funny take on a frustrating problem.
I’ve written a lot about how frustrated I get when I see articles built entirely around a handful of tweets. These stories are often framed with headlines like, “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is Deemed ‘Racist'“ (The National Review, 2018, made up entirely out of 4 tweets that were clearly joking about how during the dinner scene, Franklin, a Black character, has an entire side of a table to himself), “Apple Fixes ‘Terrible’ Bagel Emoji Design After Social Media Outrage” (Fox News, 2018, again, entirely made up of tweets that were jokes), and “Social Justice Warriors Outraged Over ‘White Woman’ Cast as "‘The Mummy.’ There’s Just One Problem” (The Blaze, 2017, four tweets from random accounts that had zero retweets or likes at the time the piece was written).
This is just how media works these days, and it’s been especially beneficial to conservatives and others on the right who push the “cancel culture”/”people are too sensitive!” narrative. Trying to push back on it is mostly pointless, as people will simply point to the few tweets making the points that supported the story in the first place. Just check out yesterday's newsletter for an example of this happening at a big, mainstream media outlet.
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So last night, as I was getting ready for bed, I saw that Ryan George had a new video out.
If you’re not familiar with his work, Ryan George is probably best known for doing “Pitch Meeting” videos over at Screen Rant (though those recently moved to their own page. They’re usually pretty funny! Here’s one about the Obi-Wan Kenobi Disney+ series.)
Anyway! His latest video really just sums up my frustration with the world of media in a sadly-all-too-accurate kind of way. Check it out! I also transcribed it below.
News Site: Hi there, hello!
Person: Oh, hey, News Site.
NS: It's me! It's the frickin’ News Site!
Person: I know.
NS: Did you hear about that whole McDonald's thing? People are pissed!
P: What McDonald's thing?
NS: Here's my headline. Okay, you ready?
P: I guess
NS: “McDonald's Says They're Not Bringing the McPizza Back and People are Upset.”
P: What? What? What do you mean?
NS: I just told you. No immediate plans to bring the McPizza back and people are reacting.
P: Well, like, what people are you talking about?
NS: Oh, well, you know, I think it’d probably be best if you just reacted to that headline, maybe skim the first paragraph? That'd be a lot better for me.
P: Okay, who is upset? Who are you talking about, specifically?
NS: Okay, well, deeper in the article. There is a tweet from someone who's like, “Boo, bring the McPizza back!” It's got like seven retweets.
P: Okay, so that's not really anything.
NS: Well, I got another tweet right beneath that one where a guy's like, “Man, I remember the McPizza. Too bad they're not bringing it back.”
P: And that has less retweets, I'm guessing?
NS: That one does have less retweets. No retweets on that one, in fact
P: Okay, News Site, you can't base entire articles off of people reacting to things on Twitter.
NS: Oh, I beg to differ. I shared my article on my Twitter and people are reacting to it now!
P: Are most of the replies about how stupid it is to be upset about something like that?
P: You're making people react to a story that's about people reacting to a story that's about something not happening.
NS: Yeah getting some pretty good numbers, too!
P: Oh my god.
NS: Okay, well, I got some other news I could share with you. You want to hear it?
P: Not really.
NS: Here's the headline. You ready? Here, this is the headline: “LeBron James Says He's Ready to Retire.”
P: He said that?
NS: Swear to god. You should tweet about that right now. Go, just go right ahead.
P: Okay, News Site, I'm gonna ask you a question. What is the full quote?
NS: You can just retweet and react to the headline, that'd be great.
P: What is the full actual quote that I'm guessing you have in like the fifth paragraph?
NS: I don't want to say. That feels tacky.
P: What is it? Tell me what it is.
NS: Okay. Okay. Okay. He says he's ready to retire when the time is right but he's still got a couple good years left in him.
P: Damnit, News Site! Why do you do this?
NS: I got another story.
P: Is it about Elon Musk?
NS: It's about Elon Musk.
P: Can't you just report on important stuff like what's going on in the world? What are scientists saying about stuff. What are the important stories?
NS: Well, the climate crisis is getting worse. There's a housing crisis. There's inflation, there are a bunch of wars going on, and the economy is probably going to collapse.
P: So what was that about the McPizza?
NS: It's not coming back and people are mad!
P: Tell me more about that.